President Paul Kagame warned Saturday that anyone seeking to destabilize the country should consider what happened to rebel group that attacked southwestern region.
Kagame did not name the group, but was referring to the national liberation forces (FLN). Its spokesman and key founder Nsabimana Callixte aka Maj Sankara was captured in the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros and handed to Rwanda in April.
FLN is based in south Kivu province of DR Congo. Details from Maj Sankara’s court appearances show the rebels trekked from South Kivu, via Burundi into Nyungwe forest national park.
Their attacks began in June 2018. Several people in the region were killed. The last attack happened before Sankara’s capture.
“What were they really looking for?” said Kagame today in a speech to politburo of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).
“We had warned them that whatever you intend to do, a message am also sending others still planning, when you enter intent on harming Rwanda you don’t get out…tell me who among them got out,” said Kagame amid loud applause.
“The locals are innocent (imfura), they refused to join them, then RDF picked each one of them…throughout the day and night, if any of them survived show them to me.”
Kagame said RDF has the capabilities to fight off any attack no matter the size. But that there was no need to use the forces.
“It is not just the equipment, it is also coupled with the vigour (will) that we have to counter anything destabilizing our country,” he said.
Kagame also warned the “neighbors provoking” his government.
“Even the neighbors provoking us know [RDF’s capacity], they are aware,” he said.
Rwanda is engaged in a silent cold war with Burundi to the south, Uganda to the north and a war torn DR Congo to the west which is home to Rwandan rebel groups.
Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni have signed an MoU mediated by Angola and DR Congo leaders. This Sunday, Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa is heading a high-level delegation to Rwanda for talks on the operationalisation of the MoU.
Kagame said today: “There is no need to use our capabilities as that [insecurity] undermines our development, but it was necessary that we solve that [FLN attack] once and for all”.
Referring to opposition politician Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, whom he did not mention by name, Kagame said he had granted her clemency and would be left to continue “making noise”.
“Let them die from elsewhere, they shouldn’t consume our time away from development. We will live with them. Since we can’t change them into useful people, they won’t affect us either…”
Kagame said he had a “debt” owed to Nyamasheke district and adjacent regions. In the national travels in June, Nyamasheke district was on the itinerary but it was dropped out at last minute. Kagame is now planning to visit.
In the speech Saturday lasting about 50 minutes, Kagame spent a large portion of it denouncing officials who beat up people they are supposed to protect, abuses against women and motor vehicle accidents he said were killing a lot of people.
The President also defended his government’s economic record, a subject he began with in the speech. It is also the first speech to his party, today attended by over 2000 delegates at the RPF’s Intare Arena, since a global media campaign erupted questioning the country’s poverty figures.
“Last year 2018, the economy grew by 8.6%…for [the] first quarter of this year it was 8.4%…then in the second quarter, growth reached 12.2%,” said Kagame, sending his audience into loud applause.
“Elsewhere, economic growth is enjoyed by a few. However, our growth is benefiting a large majority of our people who are engaged in profitable activities…”
“What am trying to demonstrate here is how much can be achieved, yet we choose [to] deny it to ourselves.”
Kagame noted that he expects RPF members to be the guardians and forces for good. He said they should not only avoid engaging in bad vices, but they should also not just look on when anyone else commits bad acts.